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Biden says Netanyahu's government is starting to lose support and needs to change

Deadly Israeli airstrikes hit southern Gaza
Israeli airstrikes hit southern Gaza as officials say fighting could go on for months 02:34

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government is beginning to lose support around the world, and Netanyahu needs to make changes, President Biden told supporters during a campaign reception Tuesday. 

"Israel has a tough decision to make. Bibi has got a tough decision to make," the president said at the event, according to a White House transcript and a pool reporter in the room. "There's no question about the need to take on Hamas. There's no question about that. None. Zero. They have every right."

But he raised some concerns about the toll of Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza, which is now in its third month following Hamas' deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

"One of the things that Bibi understands, I think, now — but I'm not sure [Israel's Minister of National Security Itamar] Ben-Gvir and his War Cabinet do, who I've spoken to several times — is that Israel's security can rest on the United States, but right now it has more than the United States. It has the European Union, it has Europe, it has most of the world supporting it. But they're starting to lose that support by the indiscriminate bombing that takes place," Mr. Biden said.

The president said he and Netanyahu have had stark differences through the years, and that remains the case. The Biden administration supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while Mr. Biden noted Netanyahu's government doesn't. 

"He's a good friend, but I think he has to change and — with this government, this government in Israel is making it very difficult for him to move," the president said. 

"But we have to make sure that — that Bibi understands that he's got to make some moves to strengthen [the Palestinian Authority] — strengthen it, change it, move it," the president said, according to the White House transcript. "You cannot say there's no Palestinian state at all in the future. And that's going to be the hard part."

The White House made the president's full remarks available, even though it was a campaign reception, but didn't permit recordings at the event. The president sometimes speaks more freely in campaign events, away from the glare of the cameras. 

Hours before the president made those remarks, he had a similarly sobering message for attendees at a White House Hanukkah party. 

"I make no bones about it, I've had my differences from Israeli leadership," Mr. Biden told his guests. "I have known Bibi now for 51 years. He has a picture on his desk of he and I when he was a young member in the Israeli service here, former service, and I was a 32-year-old senator. And I wrote at the top of it, 'Bibi, I love you and I don't agree with a damn thing you have to say.' It's about the same today, I love him and — but look, it's a tough spot, tough spot. We continue to provide military assistance to Israel until they get rid of Hamas. But — but — we have to be careful. Have to be careful. The whole world's public opinion can shift overnight. We can't let that happen."

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